Sadly, our Western culture is so out of touch with what it takes how to take care of these precious human bodies. Most of us have been conditioned into thinking that taking care of ourselves is secondary to work, caring for the kids, running errands, and doing the daily grind. Before we know it, we’re stressed-out, and our bodies pay a high price. Just as we need to take the oxygen mask first before placing it on our child, we need to retrain ourselves to put our bodies foremost, before all else, to better serve our lives and the people we love.
Exactly 53 days ago, my friend and I decided to do yoga every day for 90 days. We adjusted to our new schedule, but now it’s just part of the daily routine, something that would seem odd not being a part of our day.
We’ve gotten comments like, “Wow, that’s ambitious!” or “I could never do that!” and “Isn’t it dangerous to do so much yoga?” It has completely transformed our lives! We’ve never felt better, and we both feel so grateful that we have given that extra time for ourselves. I’m not here to push yoga; that’s not the point. The point is that we committed to delving every day into something healthy that we love to do.
Creating Your Own Daily Self-Care Practice
Although I do believe that we should be breaking a mild sweat every day, a morning self-care ritual doesn’t have to be a workout. Before I do anything else, I start my day with skin brushing, an oil massage, and some energizing breathwork. This sets the intention that “my body matters.” I am willing to put it before all else in my day.
I now give a full three hours each day for self-care. This seems like a lot to “fit in” to the daily Western structure, but from an Eastern perspective, my three hours barely skim the surface. In the Ayurvedic, Buddhist, Taoist, Siek, and other meditative traditions, it’s imperative to give adequate time and effort into keeping the body healthy, happy, and holy. Without a healthy body, less is the ability to fulfill our deeper purpose and to be of assistance to others who need our help.
Use the ideas below to kick-start your daily self-care ritual. I prefer a morning ritual before I do anything else; it’s less likely to get pushed aside if I start fresh each morning. Plus, it sets the tone for the whole day ahead.
A quick brushing over the skin with a hard-bristle skin brush excites the lymphatic system, brings blood flow to the peripheral tissues, and increases the immune response. It’s a great way to wake up in the morning! Skin brushes can be purchased at natural food stores, bath shops, or online.
Abyanga is a daily Ayurvedic ritual of rubbing the skin with oil to heal the body and help blood circulate. The technique is to rub all body parts as vigorously as you can. Use natural, organic vegetable oil such as olive, almond, or coconut.
This ancient Chinese practice is an excellent way to revitalize the system and wake up in the morning. The exercises stimulate digestion, balance the glandular system, and gently cleanse the body. Just 10 minutes can kindle your energy. Daisy Lee and Garri Garripoli have several excellent DVDs available.
Prayer and Meditation:
Meditation can be used to connect to your highest self, God, or the universal flow of life. It can also be used to settle the mind and nerves. Once you become familiar with a basic meditation, you can start to incorporate it into a home practice. Do a Google search to see which classes are offered in your area, find an online tutorial, or purchase an instructional CD or DVD.
Showers are refreshing, but bathing is divine! If done with thoughtfulness and intention, a morning bath can make you feel like a queen all day long. Nurture and nourish your royalty every day with added bath salts, essential oils, candles, or incense. For a skin, pH cleanses, mix a cup of apple cider vinegar into the tub.